Instant Messaging habits have been surveyed here. The most interesting findings at a glance:
- IM usage is up 19 percent year over year for 2005
- 38 percent say they send as many or more IMs than emails
- 33 percent of IM users send mobile IMs or text messages from their cell phones at least once a week
If their study is accurate, then the internet is indeed transitioning to an increasingly mobile, increasingly synchronous state of affairs. We increasingly carry all our buddies around with us wherever we go, and we respond to them (and come to expect a response from them) more quickly than ever before. If these interpretations are sound, then North America is clearly primed for 3G adoption. We already use “3G”, just not on our phones. Yet.
According to their press release, the survey results are based on 4,032 respondents — Internet users aged 13 years and older — in the top 20 markets around the country. Hence, in the first place, we should interpret these results with caution, as there is bias toward large urban centers over remote and rural locations. Additionally, since it’s an AOL survey, we should question how respondents were selected – from among existing AOL subscribers, or by some other method?
We might also wonder if the following findings are true, or possibly attributable to sample bias:
More than 47 percent of those surveyed say they use more than one IM application. However, AOL remains the leader, with 65 percent of users selecting AOL’s instant messaging services.
Considering MSN Messenger is installed on almost every Windows machine in almost every office and home, one can’t help but wonder if swaths of internet users are being overlooked here, which conveniently pumps up AOL Instant Messenger. Yes. Given related hype about a “myspace killer” floating around, one can’t help but wonder.
These findings are methodologically opaque (as is the case with all public relations texts masked as science). No serious student of the internet and society should take this kind of information at face value, especially considering the absurdly transparent timing of the “myspace killer” AOL is rumoured to be launching soon (and even acknowledging that this survey is done annually, my reasoning still applies – the timing is perfect for a new product launch). Nonetheless, there may be grains of useful information in it – findings that could provoke real truth-seeking disconnected from revenue-seeking.